Indonesia: Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the deterioration of civic space

CIVICUS has submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Committee on the state of civic space in Indonesia ahead of its review of the state’s implementation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 11 March 2024.

Indonesia.Cover.HRCIn the submission, CIVICUS documented the ongoing restrictions, criminalisation, harassment and threats of activists and journalists including those who were charged under Electronic Information and Transaction (Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik or ITE) Law, that was passed in 2008. The law has been used to arrest, harass, prosecute and punish people for peacefully exercising their freedom of speech, including activists and journalists.  The Indonesian authorities have also used Article 106 (treason) and Article 110 (conspiracy to commit treason) of the Criminal Code to prosecute dozens of political activists for their peaceful expression.

The submission also highlights law and policies that are still used to restrict protests in Indonesia. Further, the new Criminal Code passed in December 2022 outlaws unsanctioned public demonstrations deemed to be disturbing public order. The submission also highlights incidents where the authorities have forcibly dispersed protests and arbitrarily arrested protesters. In some cases, unnecessary and excessive force and firearms were used, leading to injuries and deaths. In most cases, no one has been held accountable or only administrative sanctions have been imposed.

The submission highlights how the Law No. 17/2013 on Societal Organisations falls short of international law and standards and documents the ongoing criminalisation of human rights defenders especially in Papua. Human rights groups have faced acts of intimidation by the police including visits to their offices while civil society gatherings have been cancelled due to threats from fundamentalist groups. There have also been digital attacks against students, academics, journalists and activists to spread fear and silence critical voices.

The submission calls on the UN Human Rights Committee to make a series of recommendations including: 

  • Ensure freedom of expression and media freedom by bringing all national legislation, particularly the new Criminal Code, into line with international law and standards.
  • Repeal laws around criminal defamation, including Article 27 para (3) on defamation of the ITE Law and Article 156a of the Criminal Code, in order to bring them into line with ICCPR Article 19 and other international law and standards in the area of freedom of expression.
  • Repeal Article 256 of the new Criminal Code and amend Law No. 9 of 1998 on Freedom of Expressing Opinions in Public and the Regulation of the Head of the State Police of the Republic of Indonesia No. 9 of 2008 in order to guarantee fully the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
  • Immediately and impartially investigate all instances of extrajudicial killings and excessive force committed by security forces in the context of protests.
  • Repeal restrictive provisions of the Law on Societal Organisations to remove undue restrictions on freedom of association, to bring it into compliance with the principles of due process of law and ICCPR Articles 21 and 22.
  • Take measures to foster a safe, respectful and enabling environment for civil society, including by removing legal and policy measures and practices that unwarrantedly limit freedom of association.

More information

Download the Indonesia research brief here.

Indonesia is currently rated Obstructed  by the CIVICUS Monitor.



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